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Chrysler in talks to market Israeli Jeep

by Bill Cawthon on

The Israeli news website Ynet is reporting that Chrysler is in talks with Automotive Industries Ltd. (AIL), a company based in Upper Nazareth, to market the Storm (Sufa) 3, a vehicle based on the Jeep Wrangler JK platform. Chrysler ships the vehicles to Israel as CKD (completely-knocked-down) kits and they are assembled in the AIL plant.

Yesterday, in a ceremony at the AIL plant, Brig. Gen. Haim Rubin, the head of the Ground Forces Technological Brigade, received the keys to the first of 500 Storm 3s to be delivered to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

The Storm 3 was developed jointly by Chrysler Group, AIL and the IDF. It has a VM Motori 156-horsepower diesel engine, room for five passengers, a load capacity of of 2,300 pounds, and a top speed of about 80 mph. It also has air conditioning, special tires, a communication system, special night lighting system and front and rear tow hooks and a special snorkel to allow operations in sandy terrain and water.

General Rubin said the Storm 3 “is an excellent tool that meets the IDF’s needs, particularly the ground forces.”

Two years ago, Chrysler sent three prototypes for testing by the IDF. Over that time, the vehicles were driven tens of thousands of kilometers and have been modified to meet military requirements.

“This is a completely different vehicle from the Sufa 2,” said Lt. Col. Nissim Einat, the IDF’s head of tactical vehicles. “The Sufa 3 is much more comfortable for the user. Inside, it is very similar to a private vehicle. There is an integrated and reliable radio system – much more reliable than the Sufa 2. There are much fewer glitches and problems. Also, it is an automatic vehicle that is driven by a diesel engine.”

Now Chrysler is looking into the possibility of offering the Storm 3 to other nations for military, border patrol and law enforcement use. The Storm 3 is available in multiple configurations including an armored version that will stop 7.62 X 39 rifle bullets (7.62 X 39 is the caliber of the AK-47 military rifle popular in many parts of the world).

It would be a win-win-win situation: Chrysler gets a ready-made vehicle requiring no further development investment that it can sell internationally; AIL, which has been producing Jeeps for over 40 years, would get more orders and make more money, allowing them to ramp up production and hire new workers in an area that has high unemployment, something that will make the Israeli government happy.

Thanks to Autojunkie for the tip!

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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